What Relationships Can Teach Us About the World of Work

It’s been said that those who fail to learn from the past are destined to repeat it. For some of us that means a paradigm shift for 2011.

If you’re seeking ways to work smarter, enhance your work experience, increase your value to your organization, and move forward in your career, you need look no further than lessons on love.

That’s right. Relationships (past and present) can be a gold mine when it comes to providing wisdom in the world of work, as there are many parallels and similar standard operating procedures. Based upon what I’ve observed and experienced, here are some of the most important ones. So just in case you didn’t get the memo, take notes.

  1. You’ve got to be a good “team player” or you’ll likely be pink-slipped. Think about it. Nobody likes a slickster or a slacker. It puts unnecessary burden on others and causes resentment.  Besides, nobody’s indispensable!
  2. Ongoing communication prevents future problems.  Have you ever had a break-up that you didn’t see coming? Ouch. Whether it’s with a significant job project or significant other, it’s important to address goals, perceptions, challenges, and expectations. Regularly.
  3. Show up! Whether it’s being “emotionally available” or physically accounted for, your presence is required. I’m often amazed at how many folks jeopardize their job status due to poor attendance. Don’t be one of them. You gotta’ report for active duty folks; it’s a no-brainer.
  4. Like a bank account, you’ll only yield what you put in. Work hard and be consistent for optimal returns.
  5. Perks can be a great motivator.  Strive to create win-win situations.
  6. Be willing to admit your mistakes and learn from them. Remember, “Pride cometh before the fall.”
  7. Increase the odds for success and longevity by making wise choices from the get go. For example, don’t choose a job as an accountant if you hate numbers. Don’t take a gig in customer service if you’re not a “people” person. Trust me on this one.

Follow these seven savvy tips to enhance your job performance and to create a career that you can fall in love with.

(Image courtesy of Katie Tegtmeyer under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution generic license.)

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Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, popular relationship columnist and Managing Editor at Coffeehouseforwriters.com. Formerly an "awesome" public relations professional, she now enjoys the spoils of the entrepreneurial life. Additionally, she is a columnist for Technorati.


  1. Stephanie on the 4th February

    Often times we invest a great deal of time and effort into our “love” relationships forgoing all of the other relationships that we must maintain. Thanks for reminder to put in time in all the relationships in our lives.

  2. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 4th February


    Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate the input.

  3. Karen Lange on the 4th February

    Great tips, with so many applications!

  4. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 4th February

    Thanks, Karen. Glad you found them useful!

  5. Bryan Thompson on the 5th February

    Jennifer! How’s my favorite WorkAwesome contributor?! 🙂

    I never thought about the comparison between work and relationships, but this is about as good a take on it as I could imagine. All good points – I’d say in that first one, give 110% – we can only account for ourselves. And I’d have to say, there is a lot of relevant truth to “Just Showing Up.” It amazed me when I would counsel people as a pastor, how many relationships are on the rocks just because the husband doesn’t come home. The same is true for jobs. In fact, there are actually work-related classes where people “learn” skills like “showing up for work.” It’s hard to imagine for all of us on such a progressive work blog (wink), but there are a lot of people who weren’t raised with this kind of work ethic.

    Thanks for sharing, Jennifer.

  6. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 5th February


    You’re “awesome”. 🙂 Thanks for the feedback. And I don’t mean to seem sexist here, but these lessons seem to present more difficulty for “Mars” inhabitants than those of us on planet Venus. 🙂 You were right on target with the advice you gave to those you counseled—you gotta be present.

  7. Sibyl - alternaview on the 5th February

    Jen: I like that analogy and the comparison of the working world to relationships. I had not really thought about it before, but after reading your post and insights it makes so much sense. I also think this post serves as a great reminder that we have to always be on the lookout to extend the lessons that come our way to every aspect of our life. Great and thought provoking post.

    • Marcie on the 5th February

      I’m with Sibyl. I’ve never thought of that analogy and it makes since. And it’s very relatable. Great job!

  8. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 5th February


    How true! Heeding these valuable reminders (in love and work) will ultimately prevent the infamous words of Donald Trump—“You’re fired!”

  9. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 6th February


    Move to the head of the class. 🙂 Thanks much!

  10. Lisa on the 6th February

    Hi Jennifer,
    Great article! You are so right that there are so many opportunities that we can learn and grow from in our relationships and apply to our worklife/careers. Especially communication! Very useful advice.

    Peace and blessings,

  11. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 7th February

    Hi Lisa,

    I’m glad you liked it. I greatly appreciate your input. Be well. 😉

  12. Yvonne Mokihana Calizar on the 7th February

    Relationships are hard work, and there it is. Like many of the comments ‘being present’ makes relationships real. I like the reminder of relationships like a bank account, too.


  13. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 7th February


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts today. I appreciate your time and input.

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